Posts Tagged: ‘debt collector harassment’

When Debt Collectors Call Know your Rights

January 17, 2017 Posted by kingcade

When a debt collector calls, it’s important to know your rights.  In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau required debt collectors to do their “due diligence” to help ensure they are collecting on legitimate debt and put a cap on their weekly attempts to reach a consumer.  The bureau also increased enforcement, bringing more than 25 cases on debt-collection tactics that deceive or abuse consumers.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that protects consumers against unfair collection practices, including:

  • Calling you repeatedly to annoy or harass you;
  • Trying to collect more than you owe;
  • Failing to send a written notice of the debt;
  • Threatening violence, using profanity or offensive language;
  • Threatening dire consequences (i.e. – lawsuits, criminal prosecution, wage garnishment, jail time, permanently ruining your credit);
  • Calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.;
  • Revealing debt to third parties (i.e. – family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.);
  • Contacting you at your work, after you have requested them to stop;
  • Failing to verify disputed debts;
  • Ignoring cease communication requests.

It is important that consumers verify everything when it comes to a debt they may (or may not) owe.  In a recent CFPB survey, half of Americans contacted about a debt in the past year said they were given inaccurate information about what they owed. Debt collectors are legally required to follow up their phone call with a written notice detailing the debt.

Understand that just because someone is calling to collect a debt, does not mean you should pay it right away.  It is always important to verify.  The collection attempt could be for a so-called zombie debt that is past the statute of limitation or a debt collection scam.

If you do in fact owe the debt, make sure and take notes. Write down every name and employee number you speak with, including the agency, the number they called, the time of the call, etc. Take notes on what was said.  This detailed record keeping can prove helpful if you need to file a complaint about the debt collector’s behavior in the future.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/12/know-your-rights-when-a-debt-collector-calls.html

 

One Wrong Move Can Bring your ‘Zombie’ Debt Back to Life

October 31, 2016 Posted by kingcade

In the spirit of Halloween, we want to warn you about zombie debt.  As the name suggests, zombie debt is a debt that you thought was dead but has come back to life.  This could be a debt you already paid off, a debt you settled with a creditor, a debt where the statute of limitations has expired, a debt that was wiped out in bankruptcy, or a debt that was never yours to begin with.

Zombie debts are old debts.  That in itself is what makes them so dangerous to consumers, especially when debt collectors apply high-pressure tactics to have you pay up.

Another downside, these debts are oftentimes hard to verify. As debts are sold and resold, information can vanish, leading collectors to seek payment on erroneous debt.  Making even a single payment on an old debt can reset the statute of limitations, leaving you vulnerable to a lawsuit.

Debt collection is the largest source of consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with more than 85,000 complaints filed in 2015.  The leading complaint: Consumers being harassed for debts they did not owe.

Here are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim and put zombie debt to rest for good:

  • Request a validation letter.  This will outline details, including the original creditor, the amount of the debt and how you can challenge it. This will help you verify that it is your debt and has not already been paid.
  • If you already paid the debt: Write a letter to the collections agency demanding that it cease contact. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act requires them to do so. Remember: You cannot legally be sued for a debt that is past the statute of limitations, even though collectors may still try.
  • Pull your credit report to determine whether it is being reported to the credit bureau.  You can do so for free at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Know your rights. Do not let a debt collector bully you.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you against abusive collection tactics.
  • If the debt is not yours, it is otherwise invalid: Write a letter challenging the debt within 30 days of the initial contact.
  • If you do owe the debt and can pay, resolving an unpaid account can end the collection calls and improve your credit score. Get any payment agreement in writing before sending money.
  • If you do owe the debt and cannot pay: Tell the creditor you cannot afford to pay. Never give your credit card information or bank account information to a creditor.  Instead, pursue debt relief through credit counseling or bankruptcy.

No matter what, be proactive. Do not ignore anything you receive in the mail from a debt collector and make sure and keep all of your correspondence in writing.

At the law firm of Kingcade & Garcia we want you to have a safe and Happy Halloween this year!   If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/10/31/debt-collectors-zombie-debt-payment/92666504/

http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2016/10/31/dont-get-bit-by-zombie-debt-this-halloween/

 

The FCC Wants Debt Collectors to Stop Calling So Much

May 11, 2016 Posted by kingcade

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved a proposal that would reduce the number of collection calls consumers receive.  A budget deal was approved last year that provided government exemptions from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that blocks solicitors from sending automated calls to cell phones under certain conditions. Congress called on the FCC to limit those exemptions.

The proposal limits government debt collectors to three calls per month, which can only be made if an individual is late on making a payment. It also allows calls informing people about payment plans, though borrowers can request to opt out.

With taking this first step toward implementing the requirements, Congress recognizes the importance of collecting debt owed to the U.S. and respecting the consumer protections allotted in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. It is still subject to two rounds of comments- the first on June 6, and the second on June 21.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

12 Times You Can Sue a Debt Collector

February 4, 2016 Posted by kingcade

Millions of Americans struggle with debt and in turn have to deal with collection calls.  While some debt collectors abide by the legal debt collection practices, many do not.  Fortunately, there are protections in place that allow consumers to fight back if debt collectors violate their rights. A strong federal law, called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers against unfair collection practices and helps prevent creditor abuse and harassment.

Below are 12 times when you can sue a debt collector.

  1. Calling early & calling late. Debt collectors should not be calling you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. It is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) for a collector to call at a time that is known to be inconvenient. This is typically a time you are away from work, at home with your family or sleeping.
  2. Calling at other Inconvenient Times. If you have told a collector not to call at a certain time, that is also a violation of the FDCPA. If you work nights and tell the debt collector not to call you during particular hours, they cannot do so.
  3. Discussing with Third Parties. Debt collectors cannot call a family member and say that you owe them money. This is another violation of the FDCPA. They can call and ask how to reach you, but they cannot discuss your debts with anyone besides you. The only exception is that debt collectors can contact your spouse.
  4. When a Lawyer’s Involved. If a debt collector knows you have hired an attorney and they contact you that is a violation of the FDCPA. The reason is that the consumer may be in the process of filing for bankruptcy.
  5. Making False Threats. If collectors make threats and do not follow through, that is a violation of the FDCPA. This can include both legal threats such as a lawsuit, or any other type of threats.
  6. Calling the Wrong Party. If a collector has the wrong number and continues to call you after you have told them who you are, that is grounds for a lawsuit. The collector may think that you are lying about your identity, so they keep calling, thinking that you will come clean.
  7. Using Pre-recorded or automated voice calls. “Robocalls” are an illegal form of debt collecting. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibits any company to use automated or pre-recorded calls to collect debts.
  8. Using Automatic Phone Dialing Systems. Telephone systems that automatically dial numbers one after another and can contact consumers up to five times per day are illegal under the TCPA.
  9. Misrepresenting the Nature of the Debt. Oftentimes, debt collectors pressure family members of deceased relatives to pay their debts by saying they are responsible, even if they are not. This is illegal and has severe penalties.
  10. Threatening Violence. Under no circumstances is a debt collector permitted to threaten violence to coerce consumers to pay their debts.
  11. Using Profanity. The FDCPA protects debtors from verbal abuse such as the use of obscene or profane language. If it is meant to cause harm, it is grounds for a lawsuit.
  12. False Representation. If a collector does not disclose who they are or why they are calling, that is a violation of the FDCPA. Collectors must disclose to the consumer who they are and that they are attempting to collect a debt either in writing or over the phone.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Debt Collectors are now Being Held Responsible for Harassing Debtors

February 27, 2012 Posted by kingcade

The Federal Trade Commission is giving debt collection agencies a dose of their own medicine in terms of harassment. The FTC is taking strong steps forward to hold these agencies responsible for harassing debtors. In 2010, a reported 140,036 claims of harassment were filed, which was not only the largest in history, but a 20,000 increase from the previous year. The collection agencies are not only in trouble with the FTC for harassment, but also for failure to notify the debtor of their outstanding debt in writing and also for “misinterpreting” the debt.

Many cases such as the one filed by an 85 year-old in Oregon are surfacing and becoming national news. Anne Sessions is suing Wells Fargo Bank for harassment after she was falsely turned in by a debt collector for being in danger of committing suicide. After Sessions was taken into custody by the police and sent to a mental health institute, she was observed and later released due to the fact she was found to be of no danger to herself or anyone else.

Sessions is now suing in hopes to receive compensation for her $1,055 medical bill from the mental health facility. She is also suing for $250,000 in punitive damages. Sessions claims that she made the remark to the debt collector that some people must want to commit suicide from the harassment of the company, and later was drilled with questions by the debt collector such as, “If you did commit suicide, how would you do it?”

To read more on this story visit: http://www.bankruptcyhome.com/bankruptcyblog/2012/02/13/harassment-goes-too-far-in-debt-collection-efforts/

Choosing the right attorney can make the difference between whether or not you can keep your home. A well qualified attorney will not only help you keep your home, but they will be able to negotiate a loan that has payments you can afford. Foreclosure defense attorney, Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.